|"Weinwanderweg" – in English, wein = wine, weg = path, so ...|
One of the first you-can't-miss-this recommendations we got upon moving to Germany was: "You've gotta go to the Esslingen wine festival. It's only once a year, but they have a path where you wander around and get samples of wine. And the best part is the little wine glass you buy that hangs around your neck!"
Was that a little wine glass – or a big necklace charm?
Either way, I was in.
|The latest in oenophile fashion.|
Some notes for next year:
|Here come the crowds of wine lovers.|
First, Esslingen is easy to get to by the glorious Stuttgart public transit system. We took the S1 to the Esslingen stop. The path isn't far; just follow the crowds. If you have more than two people traveling together – and you don't already have a monthly/yearly/etc. pass – definitely get the group all-day pass for up to 5 or so people. It's usually ever so slightly more than the price of 4 one-way trips.
When you get off at the S-bahn Esslingen stop, just follow the crowds. Specifically: the Americans.
Apparently, every American within 20 miles has received the same gushing recommendation we did. We heard English all over the place. We ran into co-workers. We almost felt like we were back in Charlottesville, on a wine tour in Virginia. It didn't feel like a Real Authentic Foreign (i.e. Unusual) Experience. (Which is not good or bad; simply a surprise.)
|As the weather heated up, I discovered my handy-dandy wine glass is also well-designed to hold old-fashioned water. (Unfortunately for me and my American tastes, all the water sold was bubbly.)|
|A 2€ pastry covered with cheese and baked with tomato. Imagine a very rich mini pizza.|
We should have considered pre-eating or toting supplies. We arrived at noon, ready for wine tasting and noshing, but the crowds were incredible. We were novices. We were overwhelmed quickly. And the food, while tasty enough, was mostly bread and pastries until you get to the finish line. The smart Germans made their own picnics along the way – in the shady bends of the path, where trees arched over sweaty pockets of people.
|This way to the WC (water closet, aka – the restrooms).|
|Pay no attention to this deceptive photo. All the bathrooms had long lines, except the very, very last one. The one pictured.|
As for the wine, you could choose from several varieties, including Riesling, Spätburgunder (pinot noir), and Rosé. Toward the end, a French winery had their own stand, for 4€ a pour (the Esslingen wine was 2€ for a pour).
|A long stretch of vineyard path, with no shade in sight.|
|The festive music at the end of the path.|
Tired and hot, I was thrilled to see – not the wine, not the salads, not the heaping Maultaschen (German ravioli, sort of), not the brats. But, oh yes:
Just what every good wine fest ought to have.